After Minnesota’s first big snowstorm on November 27th, Georgia-based metalcore band Issues safely made it to the Varsity Theater with Polyphia, Lil Aaron, Sleep Token and Cold Kingdom. Issues hit Minneapolis toward the back end of their Beautiful Oblivion tour, celebrating their newest album release.
The evening opened up with Minnesota’s very own Cold Kingdom, who had excited listeners singing and dancing along with their lead vocalist, Elissa Pearson. Cold Kingdom was followed by Sleep Token, Lil Aaron and Polyphia. I’m not going to lie and say this didn’t seem like an odd lineup for an Issues tour.
Each of the openers had their own distinct sound that set them apart from the rest. Cold Kingdom was definitely giving off some VersaEmerge vibes, who have also played alongside Issues during previous Vans Warped Tours.
The vocalist in Sleep Token had an extremely unique and powerful voice, paired by melodic guitar riffs that flowed well together. Their stage presence was also distinct as each member wore different masks throughout the set.
Lil Aaron followed Sleep Token, changing up the sound to more of a West Coast Hip-Hop Rock genre. His performance really hyped up the crowd and, though I’d never heard him before, right away he reminded me of 2011 Dot Dot Curve without the screaming.
After Lil Aaron, Polyphia gave an excellent performance, showing off their musical talent and ability to wow a crowd, even without a vocalist. This progressive instrumental rock group was lively and had fun throughout their set. There were even times when they asked the crowd to sing their guitar riffs, which was fun to hear since they don’t actually utilize lyrical components to their music. However, listeners knew their sound well enough to participate and add energy to their set.
Issues ended the night, and excited fans were ready to sing along with clean vocalist, Tyler Carter. Issues started back in 2012 with their Black Diamonds album after Carter left Woe, Is Me. Something that really stuck out to me with Issues’ first album was their willingness to talk about the problems of domestic violence in their song “Princeton Ave.” I’ve had a lot of respect for them as artists since the release of that album and haven’t been disappointed since.
Though the band experienced some technical difficulties during the set, they brought the energy back into the room when they were able to perform. Tyler even got behind the drums for a few seconds to mess around while their drummer, Josh Manuel, worked with the Varsity’s AV to fix their difficulties.
I’ll also hand it to their bassist, Skyler Acord, who called himself out for sharing a story earlier in their set about trying to hook up with a bartender that may have upset listeners and came off a little problematic. He openly apologized and said that the didn’t give enough context to appropriately share his experience in a respectful way and I appreciate his honesty and recognition of how his story could affect people.
Throughout the set, each member was having fun and their guitarist, AJ Rebollo, was smiling almost the entire time. Issues played songs off of their newest album, Beautiful Oblivion, and some of their older music. They’re set was long, but their sound between each song and album is different enough that people were singing and entertained throughout the entire evening.
Issues has always been great at blending multiple musical genres together to create their distinct sound. Tyler Carter is an artist that I’ve always appreciated. Being able to see him creating music for so long, and music that I still enjoy, is exciting and shows his musical maturity.
The Varsity Theater has such a beautiful setup. People were dancing, singing and taking care of each other throughout each set, which made it a fun and safe environment in which to enjoy music. Issues ended with an encore of “Mad at Myself,” which has been stuck in my head since my drive home last night and left me excited to keep listening to their newest album and already anticipating their next release.